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Movers and shakers: Robyn Gillespie, Matti Seikkula and Dianna Taylor

Movers and shakers: Robyn Gillespie, Matti Seikkula and Dianna Taylor

Edwina Mistry and Nuwanthie Samarokone launch programme to help young Kiwis make ‘informed choices’ for careers in the digital era

Robyn Gillespie

Robyn Gillespie

Robyn Gillespie steps up as CIO for civil engineering firm WSP Australia and New Zealand. Before this, she was GM operations and IT for the combined business of WSP Opus in New Zealand.

Dianna Taylor: CIO to CEO
Dianna Taylor: CIO to CEO

Dianna Taylor is the new chief executive at REANNZ. Taylor is included in the 2019 CIO50, the annual report on New Zealand’s most innovative ICT leaders. She is currently general manager technology/CIO at the NZ Racing Board.  Before this, she held CIO and GM roles at Kiwibank. Taylor will take up the new role in August.

Matti Seikkula
Matti Seikkula

Matti Seikkula leaves e-Spatial, the company he co-founded with Simon Jellie in 1998, and joins Zag (formerly known as Soltius) as head of special services. e-Spatial was acquired by Harrison Grierson early last year.  

Jenny Beresford at a CIO NZ forum
Jenny Beresford at a CIO NZ forum

Jenny Beresford is now chief digital officer at Laureate International Universities, following nearly four years at Gartner, where she was research director, CIO Advisory Group.

Nuwanthie Samarakone and Edwina Mistry
Nuwanthie Samarakone and Edwina Mistry

Edwina Mistry, founder of CreateOps and Nuwanthie Samarakone, CEO of Ice, have teamed up to create a programmed called Informed Choices.

The programme is a 10-week industry internship for students who are in their final years of school (Year 12 and 13), and is aimed at Maori and Pasifika students in South Auckland school decile 5 and lower. 

“The industry internship will give them an understanding of the real world and hence enable them to make the right subject choices whilst at school that will then pathway into further study that leads to a career of choice,” says Mistry, who is behind a range of programmes to encourage young people to consider a technology career. These include Ytech, Ytech – Walking on Mars, ShadowTech, Experience IT in the Real World, Jhack and Programming Challenge for girls.  

She says this year, they will hold two internship programmes, one for each term holiday.

“A large percentage of our youth end up finishing school without an idea of what should be their next step or a choice of career they would like to pursue or the higher education they should choose,” says Mistry, on why she and Nuwanthie started the programme.

Edwina MistryCredit: CreateOps
Edwina Mistry

It is important that youth whilst their in the final years of school are given real experience in industry which will enable them make informed choices

“Many choose further education without a clue of what are the opportunities in the real world after they graduate and how to get that next job.  It is important that youth whilst their in the final years of school are given real experience in industry which will enable them make informed choices and hence not end up with education they have not enjoyed or see the benefit and value of their certificates, diplomas or degrees and end up with a loan as well."

Nuwanthie Samarakone at a Microsoft Women in Technology forum
Nuwanthie Samarakone at a Microsoft Women in Technology forum

We need to take responsibility to drive the seismic shift in both workplace culture and job functions by giving young talent the opportunity to make informed career choices

"Working with Edwina on building this conceptual idea to a programme was a no brainer!,” says Samarakone, who is also involved in programmes to encourage more women and underrepresented groups in technology roles, and with  ICT internships in government agencies.

“I have always maintained that young and aspiring individuals represent the future of Aoteoroa’s workforce. We need to take responsibility to drive the seismic shift in both workplace culture and job functions by giving young talent the opportunity to make informed career choices.

“We’re rolling up our sleeves and getting involved in our communities,” says Samarakone.

Doing something big or small in any community can impact someone - giving back is not hard. We are committed to influencing the lives of these young students to maximise and reach their potential - it's a wonderful and very powerful journey to be a part of. And that is what I believe informed choices is truly about." 

Edwina Mistry at a JHack event
Edwina Mistry at a JHack event

Stuart Dean has been promoted to chief operations officer at equipment hire company Kennards Hire. Dean has been working in the hire industry for almost 20 years, and joined Kennards Hire as group IT programmme manager in 2009. In 2016, he was appointed general manager of IT until 2017, when he and his family moved to Queensland to take up the Queensland GM role. 

Stuart Dean: GM of IT to chief operations officer
Stuart Dean: GM of IT to chief operations officer

Neeraj Lala is appointed chief operating officer at Toyota New Zealand, from his previous role of GM new vehicles and product planning. Lala has had a variety of senior management positions with Toyota New Zealand, which he joined as a commerce graduate from Victoria University in 1998. He has worked in most areas of the Toyota business including marketing, new vehicles, product planning, IT and used vehicles. In 2014, he completed an executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) with distinction from Massey University.

Toyota NZ CEO and managing director Alistair Davis and Neeraj Lala
Toyota NZ CEO and managing director Alistair Davis and Neeraj Lala

He was also seconded to the United States to undertake a three-year Executive Leadership programme with Toyota Motor Sales. He returned to Toyota New Zealand’s Palmerston North headquarters in 2018 and was appointed to the board of Toyota New Zealand the same year as an executive director.

Auckland-based AI software company Aider has been selected as one of 10 startups globally to participate in the next wave of Mastercard’s elite Start Path programme. Aider is the first New Zealand startup to be selected for the programme since its launch in 2014, and was chosen from over 400 applications for the latest wave from startups from all over the world. 

The Mastercard Start Path programme, part of Mastercard Labs, enables later-stage FinTech startups to rapidly scale through access to Mastercard’s network of experts and global reach. Aider will join an elite group of +200 Start Path participants. Collectively these companies have gone on to raise more than US $1.4 billion in capital and work with some of the world’s largest organisations.

“Being selected for Start Path is validation that we are building a truly game-changing solution for small businesses around the globe,” says Aider founder and CEO, Brendan Roberts. “This opportunity will give Aider access to high profile relationships, expertise and partnerships which will help us grow to a global scale.”

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Tags innovationstrategyCIO rolechange managementeducationbig dataanalyticsmillennialsJenny Beresfordwomen in technologycio to ceoCIO100CIO-plusEdwina MistryRobyn GillespieMatti SeikkulaDXCIO50Nuwanthie Samarakonecontinuous learningtechnology for goodleadership

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